10 Customer Review Building Tips for Google+ Local

Customer reviews are a fundamental part of your local marketing efforts and online reputation. If you can get enough good ones, they can go a long ways. A slew of good reviews can boost both your local search ranking as well as click-through rate (CTR), which should ultimately lead to converting more customers. A Local Consumer Review Survey (2012) showed that approximately 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, while 52% said that positive online reviews make them more likely to use a local business. But building customer reviews, and doing it ‘the right way’, especially on Google (with all of their flip-flops and recent updates) has been a dizzying process for SMBs.... [More]

Reflecting on EZlocal’s Recent Google Engage Event

In cooperation with Google last week, we hosted our first Engage event, inviting a handful of local business owners to participate at our Oakbrook Terrace office. When word came of free food, G-swag, and Google bigwigs answering questions real-time, the event RSVPs came flooding in. Despite this also being timed with the biggest winter snowstorm of the year, the event carried on uninterrupted. Chicagoans are tough! For those of you that missed out, here is a brief recap of what stuck out in our minds during Google’s 90-minute presentation: Google is focusing in on extending their marketing knowledge to small and mid sized businesses. A bit data heavy at times, all three speakers really opened the information floodgate early. VP of Google’s Americas Marketing, Lisa Gevelber, opened the live presentation with the direction of Google’s marketing efforts, and the effect technology is havi... [More]

The age of mobile is upon us! Get on board or suffer the consequences!

A little overboard? Probably. But with the avalanche of data over the past year and blog after article after write-up about the future of mobile, it is pretty clear this is an area of big interest to marketers. The progression of our information gathering methods has always pointed to a personalized mobile experience, though. Think about it. First, we sent messengers on horseback or trained birds to a location to gather intel and return to us. Then we decided to build libraries and venture to these locations ourselves. Eventually the hike became too much and we demanded up to date informat... [More]

Facebook Graph Search: First Impressions

I have been playing with Facebook Graph Search for a few days now. It certainly isn't the Google killer that a lot of sites have played it up to be, not yet at least. My overall first impression: A nice improvement to the user interface, but lacks meat on the bones yet. From a design and user experience perspective, I love it. It integrates into the original, familiar blue bar seamlessly. They removed the search box and left only a place to type. If anything, this will make Facebook easier to navigate to things I do not have shortcuts to already. +1. The default search options are all pretty useful. They give you, with no typing required: My Friends, Photos of my friends, Restaurants nearby, Games my friends play, Music my friends like, Photos I have liked. All of the options seem pretty optimal for content discovery. [More]

SALSA: A Recipe for Local SEO

Local search algorithms these days are a finicky bunch, so why not just give them what they want? Okay, so you’re a small business owner and you’re overwhelmed and thoroughly confused by even basic online marketing. I get it, Local SEO itself can be dizzying. Even the pro’s in the SEO community struggle to keep up with Google’s numerous shifts, and occasional fumbles, in this space. Not to mention, being on your own, means going up against bigger and more prominent local brands, capable of leveraging consumer affinity to quickly amass things like reviews, +1’s, like’s, and check-ins on a more reliable basis. But that doesn't mean the local space is without unique opportunities for you, with your limited marketing budget, to compete and ultimately outrank your larger counterparts. Google has stated in the past that 20% of all PC-based search is related to local. And if you couple that with the surge in mobile, where [More]

Super Bowl XLVII Player Factoids

In just two days, the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens will meet in Super Bowl XLVII. Us EZlocalers are pretty excited. Most of us love football and all of us are data nerds. We gathered some info about the two 53 man rosters and came up with a list of Super Bowl XLVII 2013 player factoids. As always, we had a little fun with maps. [More]

Google Expands Direct Line Support For Local Listing Issues

Recently, we've been using the new Google Verification Support Line for those irritating PIN postcards disappearing within the black hole that is the U.S Postal System, and with satisfying results to boot. Upon providing the requested account information for the listing in limbo, Google will force through the verification and immediately send it to their "pending review" process. Granted there are certain criteria that need to be met prior to a "we'll call you" phone call a la Fight Club (which can be bypassed with some harmless fibbing), it is still an effective solution to a previously hair-pulling problem. No longer are the weeks of waiting for a vague email response to submitted report, only to find yourself back where you started after the dust settles. Instead Google has uncharacteristically opened a direct line of contact. [More]

Tablet Marketing. What Sets it Apart From Mobile?

Well, we’re all still here. 2013 has arrived without any asteroids, pole shifts, or extraterrestrial life and now some of the population has more water and freeze dried food than they know what to do with. It’s a new year filled with new opportunity and as status quo, new angles ripe for the picking in the marketing business. One in particular should be considered as the #1 overall pick in the 2013 Marketing Draft. With little competition in an area of exponential growth and the potential to dominate the e-commerce market, there should be no hesitation in shifting time and effort into restructuring your approach to capitalize. Déjà vu yet? I can’t blame you. That sounded like the opening statement to many of the “importance of the smartphone” arguments. While in the same vein, the smartphone has finally established itself as a crucial business marketing element. What I am referring to has been cleverly coined “The Year of the Tablet”. Although on the surface these two devices seem to serve the same pur... [More]

How to Improve Your Google+ Local Search Rankings

I stumbled on a pretty cool platform called SnapGuide for sharing How-To guides the other day. It's a fairly new site, and it's especially nice for mobile viewing -- although for now, they only have an iOS version. It looks like a great tool for small businesses owners and marketers to share tips in their area of expertise. The guides look great browsing via mobile. This could also be a nice tool for sales reps introducing decks on the fly. Here is a how-to guide I put together covering some of the important things you can do to boost your Google+ Local search rankings. Enjoy. [More]

Focusing the Conversation: Google+ provides a social platform in Communities that finally sets it ap

Google+ has always been quite the mystery. With seemingly limitless potential, superior functionality and tools, and a generally exciting platform for users to connect, the search engine giant has somehow failed to attract the attention and reputation that many believe it should have. It’s no secret that with the launch of Google+ the company was attempting to claim its piece of the social media pie, but the problem was no real reason to invest the time and effort required in building a successful account. Facebook has the “keeping in touch with friends” angle, Twitter nailed the lightning fast, instant information idea, and Pinterest is the place for sharing interesting ideas, photos, and recipes. Instagram allows the average user to play photographer, and Linkedin is the go-to business portal. There is a common theme among all these successful social media pl... [More]

Leveraging AuthorRank for Local SEO?

Search Engine Journal recently reported on a new metric Google is using known as AuthorRank -- a ranking signal that is definitely primed to become a big part of SEO in 2013. Basically, this means Google will be (officially) weighing in social signals (i.e., social shares, +1’s, tweets, and likes) and the influence of the people creating these signals. This includes comments left on social sites and the influence of the people leaving the comments along with the relevancy and quality of inbound links that point to the content. The end of Fiverr? Hah. Well, probably not, but this should prompt some ramped up Google+ use. This is all following the rollout of new Google programs like Top Contributors, Trusted Reviewers, and [More]

Google Maps and Instagram Collide in 'The Beat'

The Social Media Information Lab at Rutgers University has brought local context to the world of Instagram with their new project, 'The Beat'. The premise is simple: pluck an Instagram picture off a user's map and overlay it on the corresponding Google StreetView location. The Beat only lets you search by topic, but with the right hashtag you can explore your local area too. Check out this screen capture from 'the #chicago beat': My personal favorite is 'the #ribeye beat'... yum! [More]

5 Reasons to Launch Your Mobile Site Today

Quick story. In my first week of college, having just recently moved to Chicago in the winter, I was still very green when it came to public transit. It was the first day of some class I don’t remember, and rightfully because I probably didn’t need to take it, and still “recovering” from the first week in my new dorm. I wasn't particularly accustomed to bus routes, and most definitely never relied on them for transportation, so I did my research the night before. I picked a window of time I thought would be ample, set my alarm, and didn’t think twice about it. The next morning my alarm goes off, and as most college kids do I thought to myself “I can spare another 10 minutes”, and hit the snooze. That happened two more times before I finally dragged myself out of bed. Skip to the bliste... [More]